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Saturday, October 17, 2015

Sleepless Ad Agency Staffers

Several weeks ago, I sent an e-mail to both selected Media Realism readers and ad agency contacts asking them the age old question, “What keeps you up at night?”  Some of the responses were light hearted and included: “My teenage sons, my nasty boss, and my idiot clients.” Interestingly, no one said, “Nothing” makes them sleep deprived. Surprisingly, one person sent me an e-mail that I found particularly poignant. With his permission, I will share parts of it with you.

“When you met me 25 years ago, I thought that I was going to be the next David Ogilvy (you probably thought I was obnoxious). I was going to write brilliant long copy with spectacular headlines and my spreads would appear in the best magazines. You warned me even then (bravo to you), that things were changing. Obviously, things did not turn out as I expected.”

“I am now in my early 50’s and will be facing two big college tuition bills very soon. To put it simply, I am frightened. I feel that I am slowly fading into irrelevance. Some of my colleagues are finished as they have shown an unwillingness to adapt. I am not one of them but I am a realist. When I read that by 2020, many advertisers will be putting the plurality of their advertising into mobile, it gives me pause. That may never happen but what if it does? What do you need an aging writer who earns six figures for when the mobile message is truncated and is there solely to elicit direct response? I have had a great run despite some disappointments but do I realistically have 10 more years?”

“Technology is great but is rapidly washing away our old processes, modes of work and even some markets. I do not feel that advertising is doomed but it will require an entire new skill set by practitioners and very soon. Tech may overtake creativity and Big Data will drive sales far more than conventional media.”

When I showed these edited comments to others, some say my friend is an alarmist. A few said that he articulated their sentiments quite precisely. These people came from media, creative, account management and agency ownership.

Perhaps, British writer Samuel Johnson (1719-1784) put it best with the acid comment: “Nothing concentrates one’s mind like a date with the hangman’s noose".

As always, I would love to hear your opinions on this topic.

If you would like to contact Don Cole directly, you may reach him at doncolemedia@gmail.com or leave a comment on the blog.

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